Blood clots are a common health problem among Americans. They are clumps of platelets -- small cells found in your bloodstream -- that manifest when your blood coagulates, or hardens from a liquid to a solid. A blood clot, also known as a thrombus, can threaten your life if it separates from the wall of your artery and travels elsewhere in your body. Talk with your doctor about procedures, risks and alternatives before using herbal remedies to help prevent or treat blood clots.
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Blood clots are a natural response to injuries such as cuts and are beneficial for your body's healing process, as they can help arrest dangerous bleeding. However, states MayoClinic.com, some health problems can cause blood clots to develop in your lungs and brain, which can cause serious health consequences if your thrombus becomes an embolus, or a clot that travels downstream and blocks blood flow to other parts of your body. Other substances that can act like an embolus include air, amniotic fluid, fat clumps and small parts of tumors.
The herbal approach to preventing blood clots is a two-pronged approach that involves thinning your blood and reducing your likelihood of developing atherosclerosis, which is a condition that may encourage blood clot formation within your blood vessels. Naturopathic doctor William Mitchell, author of "Plant Medicine in Practice," states that certain herbs are anticoagulants that help thin your blood. These herbs include sweet clover, red clover, vanilla leaf, willow and ginger. Other blood-thinning herbs include angelica, cayenne, cramp bark, feverfew, garlic and ginkgo. Herbs that help prevent atherosclerosis include ginger, garlic and ginkgo.
Ginger is a popular herb for preventing blood clots. Ginger possesses both blood-thinning and anti-atherosclerotic action and is used for medicinal and culinary purposes. Ginger is a tropical plant that bears purple-green flowers and grows in places such as India, East Africa and parts of the Caribbean. The underground stem of the ginger plant is used to help make herbal medicine. The ginger root can be used fresh, dried or powdered, or it can be used as a juice or oil.
Some herbs should be avoided if you are pregnant or are a nursing mother. Check with your doctor about possible side effects before taking herbal remedies to help you prevent blood clots. A health care professional with extensive training in herbal medicine can provide you with information about the best herbs for you and your health complaint, proper dosage and methods of use, and any possible drug interactions that may occur. Before taking herbal remedies, you should fully understand the inherent benefits and risks of their use.